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Go Back   SailNet Community > On Board > Gear & Maintenance
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  #1  
Old 05-18-2010
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Stiff Steering

When I launched my C&C 35 a few weeks ago, I didn't check the steering system and noticed once it was on the water that the wheel was relatively stiff and with pretty much no helm feel.

It's wheel steering with cable & sheaves. I inspected & lubricated the cable, chain and sheaves and all seems to be in good shape, and it's a little better but the steering is still pretty stiff, like the wheel lock is partially engaged.

At this point, I'm pondering a couple of options before I admit defeat and start writing checks to the boatyard.

First, I'm going to check that nothing is fouling the rudder. This will be a chilly proposition given that I'm in Lake Michigan, but I'd rather take a quick dip before I start disassembling things. I seem to recall that the workers at the yard might have tied a line from a tarp to the rudder.

Assuming that nothing is fouling the rudder, I assume the next step then becomes to separate the steering system into its component parts to try to isolate the stiffness.

Is this the best approach? Usually, I'd determine which part needed disassembly, then go after that, but right now, I'm at a loss where to begin disassembly .

I've read a couple of articles on steering maintenance and figure that my next steps are:
- (afore-mentioned) rudder fouling check
- Wheel shaft -- remove chain, check for free wheel movement
- Sheaves -- check movement individually. They all look good in terms of alignment & cable movement
- Rudder -- check for free movement with cables removed
- Autopilot -- I have an old AH-4000 wheel pilot, but I pulled it off already and that made no difference. The AP itself seemed as fine as it gets. I can't really use it right now, though, as it struggles with small wheel adjustment and I'm afraid to burn up the motor.

What else should I check while I'm up to my elbows in grease?

Does anyone have any other thoughts on what the issue might be or where it might lie?

I'm reasonably handy, but the tight conditions and importance of working steering (I have and can use the emergency tiller, but would prefer not to) have me a little nervous to take this on for the first time.

All thoughts, suggestions, or even just requests for clarification are much appreciated.
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Old 05-18-2010
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Hello,

I don't know your boat, but on my boat, there is a grease fitting on the rudder shaft log, down near the bottom of the boat. I know that squirting some grease onto the rudder post makes the rudder turn easier. Maybe you have a grease fitting somewhere too.

Good luck,
Barry
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Old 05-18-2010
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Rudder bushings and wheel shaft bushings would be your most likely candidates, with a siezed cable pulley another spot to check.
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Old 05-18-2010
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The wheel brake is loosened up, right?
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Old 05-18-2010
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Yes, the wheel brake is loosened. I'm wondering if the brakes themselves are not releasing, but the knob is definitely released.

I'd be happy if it were that easy a fix
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Old 05-18-2010
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chandlerman -
You might want to disconnect everything from the rudder before you jump overboard. That way you can be sure the problem is/is not the rudder rather than any other part of the system.
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Old 05-18-2010
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I had the same problem. I took off the chain and found that the shaft that attached to the wheel was extremely tight. On my cinkel pedestal the shaft rides in a couple of plastic bushings. A little bit of dirt and grunge that collected over the years caused them to seize. They were so tight I had to use a press to get the shaft out. After cleaning and lubing, everything was fine again.
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Old 05-18-2010
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FSMike,
Yes, I'm thinking that I want to isolate the various components. Given that I'd have to disconnect the cabling in order to access the wheel shaft, I'll be well-positioned to do both of those in one go.

At this point, I think it's either the rudder or wheel shaft as jskrypek suggested--I checked the sheaves and they all seem to be in good working order, so I'm running out of things to check. If it's the rudder (and not fouled), then I'm guessing I'll have to take it down to the boatyard to get hauled out and the rudder repaired. The Admiral will not be pleased if that's the case.
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Old 05-18-2010
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If the cable strums like a guitar string it may be too tight.
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Old 05-19-2010
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cables aren't too tight--if anything, they're a bit loose. They will deflect about half an inch when I pull on the cable between the pedestal sheave and the outer sheave--not enough to bind, and it may also be stretch from the stiffness in the system right now.
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